Any serious Mexican foodie knows all about the culinary joys of pozole. Served steaming hot in deep, oversized bowls and topped with everything but the kitchen sink, it doesn’t take long to become a devoted fan. A pork and white hominy soup that is served either white (pozole blanco), green (pozole verde), or red (pozole rojo), its ingredients and appearance vary based on the region of origin.
Pozole rojo is from the Northern region of Mexico and is made by adding pureed dried chiles to the soup to give it its distinct color. This recipe is courtesy of Lupita Hernandez, a family friend who originally hails from Arandas, in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
11 lbs pork backbones*
1 large onion, whole
1 whole head of garlic
2 bay leaves
3 guajillo chiles, deveined and seeds removed
2 ancho chiles, deveined and seeds removed
1 garlic clove
Knorr Caldo de Tomate to taste (about 2 -3 Tb)**
2 large cans (29 oz) white hominy, rinsed and drained***
finely shredded cabbage
finely diced onions
chile piquín powder
*Request that the butcher give you the backbones from the rib end and have them sawed into 1 inch pieces. They should look something like a miniature oxtail with meat around a round shaped bone in the center.
**Be careful to taste the broth before you add the tomato bouillon to avoid adding too much.
***Juanitas Foods and Bush’s are two good brands that are suggested.
Fill a large stockpot one third full with hot water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse backbones in very hot water until it runs clear. Once water is boiling, add backbones and cover to return to a boil. Once boiling resumes, add onion, garlic, bay leaves and moderate salt. Salt should be sufficient to season meat but should be on the minimal side as tomato bouillon will be added later. Allow backbones to cook until tender, or about 45 minutes to an hour, skimming frequently.
While backbones are cooking, pour enough hot broth over dried chiles to cover and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to rehydrate. Next, remove bay leaves, garlic, and onion from broth, reserving onion. Place softened chiles, garlic, reserved onion, and tomato bouillon into a blender jar and process until very smooth. Strain salsa through a sieve and pour into back bones. Add well-rinsed and drained white hominy to soup and simmer until it is softened but still intact, about 1 hour. Check for salt and adjust as needed. Yield: 16 generous servings
Serve pozole rojo in deep, oversized bowls garnished with finely shredded cabbage, finely chopped onions, Mexican oregano, chile piquin powder, salsa, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Accompany pozole with tostadas topped with refried beans, crumbled queso fresco, and crema rancherito.
Pozole Rojo in Chicago:
As a general rule, when eating out in Chicago the majority of Mexican restaurants serve pozole blanco (white pozole) which is typically from the central region of Mexico. That being said, there are still a handful of places including Rick Bayless’ own Frontera Grill that offer the red version on their sample menu.
More soup recipes from the Chicago Mexican Food Examiner:
Chilate de Pollo
Sopa de Lentejas
Caldo de Res
Mexican Style Cream of Tomato Soup
Caldo de Habas
Sopa de Pasta
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